Friday, August 26, 2016

House Saga, Episode II

I really want this house. However, it's really hard for me not to feel like the universe is telling me through the difficulty of buying this house that this means that tenure is out of my grasp and we need to be able to cut and run. 

My mom thinks no, this all has happened to make sure that the house didn't go on the market and that it is being saved for us.

The J says, "this is house is so awesome, we just have to work to earn it." 

I wish I were that positive. I'm trying.

The FHA Loan... well, while I'm sure there's a legit FHA loan out there, and I'm sure ours would have been somewhat legit, and the guy has been super thorough and nice, but damn, we got the final loan estimate thing yesterday, and holy f*cking sh*t. Between closing costs, fees, insurance, and some other stuff, the total due at the closing would be nearly 10% of the loan. If I had that sort of money to begin with, I wouldn't be in the situation I'm in. 

Obvs, the first lesson is don't try to buy a house unless you really have the money in savings for it, and don't depend on a VA loan. The second lesson is to be not so irresponsible with money and spendy. 

In the meantime, the J has been trying to find a VA loan from another lender. So now we are back to square one, and starting all over again. I did at least double check with this woman to make sure that we are not going to be hit with over $11K in closing costs, which she said was excessive for the home we are trying to buy. Anyway, what's embarrassing is having to go to our friends, yet again, and tell them we are back to square one. 

I think I've decided though that unless they text us for an update, until we have something concrete from the new lenders, and somewhat of an estimate of the closing costs, then we'll decide how to proceed. 

Last night I was beside myself again. This morning, I was super negative still. Now, I've had a chance to work out, I've looked into the lease to purchase option which might be something they would consider (we really want this house), although we understand if they don't want to, because the house will sell, and will sell quick, so we'll see. My pride is hurt. I'm embarrassed. I'm actually as angry at the second loan people as I am the first because I feel like I was on the point of being hoodwinked (although, the guy working with me is probably in the same position I was in when I sold pools for a shady company--you try your best, and it's the other people that are the swindlers), but we are in no way forking out that amount of money, and in no way asking the sellers to try to cover that either. It seems shady and unfair. So, we will not do that. 

Anyway, there it is. I will get some work done on an article today. And I'm guessing by this time next week, this will in some way just about be over. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016


So our bank fucked us over.

Our house that we're buying may be in jeopardy, even though we were preapproved.

As we went to finalize the application, they missed that our house in Home City was a short sale, thus rendering the VA Loan unapprovable, even though they had already approved us. What we got was a "oh, we're sorry this happened. Someone will get feedback on this mistake. If you have $12,000, we can get you a conventional loan." If we had 12K, we wouldn't have applied for the VA Loan. And as I'm sobbing on the phone, "well, I hope you have a nice weekend."

It took everything in me not to say "fuck you and your weekend."

I then spent the rest of the afternoon and part of the evening trying to get another loan. The problem? The VA Loan does not require a down payment. All other loans do. Did we put money aside for a down payment? No, because the VA Loan doesn't require one.

What we have now is an FHA Loan, which, well, apparently is a pain in the ass for sellers to deal with and requires a minimal down payment, but the guy who helped me worked very hard to get me even this. The J cannot even be near the loan because the house was in his name and thus the short sale affects on his part of the application, so it's all me.

Now, because we know what a pain an FHA Loan may turn out to be for the sellers, who are our friends, I will talk to them tomorrow, and the J and I agreed that if they wanted to back out of the sale, we would understand and allow it to happen. He doesn't seem to think they will because they are anxious to get rid of their house so they can move and relieve the commuting burden on the wife, and the J seems to believe that the FHA inspection isn't going to be any more of a pain than an VA Loan inspection would be, but it may be a mess.

I have never felt so poor and so incapable of being an adult as I do now. I know the stigma attached to an FHA Loan, and I feel the pain of embarrassment of my financial incompetence and our lack of planning (because, duh, no down payment for the VA Loan), and I am swamped in grief and sadness at the possibility of the home we want slipping away when it was so close.

It's really in the hands of the sellers now. We will understand if they want to go a different route, and there will be no hard feelings on our end, but it just has me really really sad and stressed that this may all be gone in a matter of 24 hours. I will probably try to pop over there sometime this afternoon if they are home. So we may know something by tonight. Sigh.

I have done very little other than cry and drink since Friday night. It's all very distressing because I'm one to think of things like this as a sign from the universe. If the house falls through, then that means that the universe is indicating that I won't get tenure and we'll need the mobility to move. But the problem is if we stay in this house, with its high utilities and rent that will actually be more than the mortgage (not by much, but on top of the utilities being lower at the house which is significantly better insulated, and we wouldn't have our storage unit anymore, we're looking at maybe about $3200 a year in savings, which isn't much but adds up over time), it means that our ability to save is far lower because just that extra $272 a month that we could save is wasted. So, it all just makes me want to puke, because that $3200 a year over two years would be part of a down payment on a house in another city if he have to move. It also means that if I don't get tenure and end up unemployed, that extra $3200 a year may make the different in living off ramen or you know, being able to feed the kid while I look for work. I know this is all worst case scenario stuff, but please don't say "maybe it's not meant to be." Because that means worst case scenario in the future.

Oh well. We'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Haps

Well, my major thing that I'm supposed to be working on? Okay, I haven't started it yet. And classes start in about three weeks. Yikes. Oh, and I've not even started thinking about classes. Or my tenure portfolio (although if the bulk of it is tracking down materials, I've got all of that already). The major project, due at the end of September. Tenure portfolio due mid October. I've actually taken a couple of weeks off. My one week off turned into about three. Ooops. Even my training schedule has faltered a little bit.

OMG. I can't even believe we are doing this, especially since tenure is so tenuous right now, but...

We're buying a house. I know. On the one hand it seems so irresponsible to do so, I think. But here's what happened. The wife of one of my history colleagues got a job in a city an hour away--a great job doing what she's supposed to be doing at our university. Believe it or not, her boss is worse than mine. Anyway, her job is 8-4:30, which means she will leave here at 6:30 in the a.m. to get to her
M-F job (they also have a 14 mo. old). So colleague's schedule is obviously way more flexible, thus they are moving to be closer to her job, and obviously they are selling their house. We have been half ass looking for a house. He texted me: Bro! I ran into so and so! You're looking for a house. We're selling our house. We're very motivated sellers. Want to come and check out the house?

We did. It's about 600 sq. ft. more than we have now. Still 3bd. 2ba., but there's a bonus room off the garage that will be the office/bar. A nice sized kitchen area with a separate eating area and a kitchen bar that overlooks a nice sized living room. The master bedroom is larger than what we have now. Three walk-in closets. A screened in patio area and a fenced in yard. All at the absolutely low end of our budget (which, if we were responsible people, should really be the high end of our budget). We looked at the place at 1. We had a loan and an acceptance of our offer before 3pm. It's also in a very nice, lived-in neighborhood with lots of trees and cul-de-sacs. And, four of my history/poli sci colleagues live in the neighborhood as well, one of whom is a very good friend, and one of whom is becoming a good friend. We are hoping to close mid-October. I am crazy for doing all of this now!

It's a lovely house. They actually don't want to give it up. But they are happy for us to be buying it.

Because this place is what it is, for many, this will look good that I'm buying a house pre-tenure because it will indicate to them that we're now rooted to this spot. For others, it will look like I'm arrogantly expecting tenure. And yet for many of those people, in both camps, there may be some blow back as to the neighborhood we bought in--we bought in the history neighborhood. My boss, and two of my other colleagues, have been lobbying for five years to get us to by a place in either of their respective neighborhoods. But I do not want to live next to my boss. No. No. No. Plus, she lives right downtown, in an older part of town, with houses that haven't been updated since the 60s, and have no yards whatsoever and no place safe for kids to ride bikes or play or whatnot and is surrounded by college students, apartments, and businesses. No. Another colleague, no, I just don't want to live next to her. I know that's terrible. And the neighborhood of the other colleague backs right up to one of the fraternity houses with whom she is constantly having trouble. So, no thank you there. It's a little ways back, but it's so cute and lovely. I wish there were four beds and three baths, but given our debt and no down payment, there's no way we can afford that. But it's a great size. The yard is big (front and back), there's lots of natural light (which is a must for me), and well, it's just the perfect little house for us (at the very least, for now). Anyway, it's exciting. I think.

The kid finally moved up to the next room. She started back on Wednesday. She is so much happier now. Totally different kid than we saw six weeks ago the last time she was at school. For real. No finger crossing. We only cried on Wednesday, not yesterday. She's in a fantastic mood when we pick her up. Not the "release me from this prison" as before. Wednesday we couldn't get her to leave. So that it really great, too. She's been happy the last two days when she's come home. And it hasn't been a struggle to get her to school either. She had been acting out in the morning. But this week, so far, none of that.

So there's that. It's good. Now I just need to get my shit together and start working again. It's crunch time. I can do it. I know I can. Then when we get into the new house, I can just sit and enjoy it through the holidays.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

This is the year I go up for tenure...

I go up for tenure this fall, as most of you know, as I have been bemoaning this for the last two years.

Inspired somewhat by Historiann's "Hannah" guest posts, and for the sake of my my own sanity, I thought I'd document the tenure process here, mostly because I feel like things really could go south for some of the same reasons that we saw with Hannah (though I have nowhere near the scholarship chops she has; however, no one in my department has that level of scholarship either). I feel like there are lots of similarities between her dean and mine and my chair. My chair has, repeatedly, over the last year, tell me how no one respects the scholarship I'm doing, which, from someone NOT in my field, someone NOT with a Ph.D. in English, from someone who writes for an on-line magazine about local art festivals (and claims that as scholarship, and has for years), it is not only insulting, but discouraging (as it is meant to be). Now, would my publications carry weight on their own at an elite institution? As the Honors Director put it, "We're not at Harvard. What you're doing is more than adequate for here." Okay, not the most ringing endorsement, and not a slam at my work either because he did say there was value in what I'm doing, and that people have been tenured by citing blog posts as their scholarship (with that being their ONLY scholarship).

Anyway, I digress.

I feel like as the female of the two of us going up for tenure this year, I'm going to be under way more scrutiny than my male colleague, regardless of the strength of my tenure portfolio. I'm worried that everything I do, from the way I dress to the way I teach is going to look like politicking, which is what my boss and dean and other colleagues want me to do, but which I'm going to be penalized for despite this being their wish because I am afraid they will read it as "for show" all of sudden. Basically, right now, I feel as if I can't win. I have people rooting for me, but I'm not sure it matters.

Look, if I have to smile, and look pretty and play nice this year and agree to everything to get tenure, when I get tenure, the gloves will come off, and I will fight to make sure that the next female junior faculty who gets hired will not be treated the way that I have been treated, because it's stressful and bullshit, for one thing, but mostly it's just straight up WRONG. There's a reason, clearly, why I'm the ONLY female junior faculty in the department. And if we didn't have a kid, if the J didn't have a job (and was just in school here), I would have been outta here a long time ago. But that's not the case.

So, there it is. On Monday I get back to my research schedule and try to get as much done as I can before classes start after labor day. The kid will probably still be home all the rest of the month as well, so I've got to balance work outs, research, life, and time with her, as well as class prep.

I am also waiting for the other shoe to drop. I just have a gut feeling that I'll be taking over wayward colleague's upper division class in the fall. Nothing will convince me otherwise, not even the start of classes (because that is usually when I get the call--after classes have started). I will not be convinced until we make it through the second full week of classes either. That feeling is just settled, gnawing in my gut. Every time the phone rings, I immediately assume it's my boss calling to ask me to take over the class.

I have decided that not only am I going to gleefully accept his class for the fall, but say, "why don't you just give me all of them for the year!" Seriously though, why the fuck not, right? Make them pay me an overload all year. Anyway...

And now, I go back to trying to clean and declutter to make my room a more work conducive environment  for the time being. I have spent a year trying to get rid of things. And it seems the more I get rid of, the worse it gets. Oh well. There it is.
I did it. I actually finished an article. Or rather, I finished the book chapter that was due on July 15th. I turned it in a bit later than that, but for the first time in four year (sheesh, that's an embarrassingly long time), I saw a project from start to finish. It's crap. It will probably need many revisions, unfortunately, but I hope it's good enough at least for the editor to accept it with revisions. We shall see. But the key issue here is that I finished it.

Now on to the next project.

Things have been tense, off and on here on the sun, which is seriously how hot it is where we are. Brutally, oppressively hot. Like the only place you can be outdoors in is in the pool. Not even the dog wants to go out to walk or pee. He'll hold it until the evening when it's cooler. And there's a general advisory that one should not be outside during the day for more than three hours, with only two hours being the general advice. The real feel today is supposed to be 114. And it stormed last night, so that means it will be muggy. Why I am telling you all of this? Well, Magpie is still at home. We are still basically boycotting daycare, and the heat means we are limited by what we can do, aside from the pool. She's going a little stir crazy here, and she misses her friends, and I've spent all week trying to get the daycare director on the phone, but it's going to mean my tracking her down in person tomorrow when Mag's tuition is due. We have decided that if they insist on keeping her in that room, then we will go to the other school to see if there are openings and take her out of that daycare. She is supposed to start gymnastics on Tuesday, so that will help with a lot of things, I think, and dance registration begins on Thursday, so I've got to get on that for her too. Really, we'd like her to play soccer, and I'm not trying to be one of those moms who has something scheduled for her daughter every day and is trying to overload her with activities, but we want to try a couple of different things to see what she likes, AND this kid has so much freaking energy, that she needs something to burn it off, and something that gives me and my mom a break from trying to be the ones who help her burn her energy. And we feel like dance and/or gymnastics is going to help her with her confidence and coordination, so we'll see.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I have been laid up since Wednesday with some horrible cold. I went to the doctor, got a couple of big shots, and while the ear infection went away, the asthma flared up and the coughing was uncontrollable, and I've had to take some serious cough medicine to make it through the night which has left me feeling in many ways worse than without it (but sleeping through the night through the coughing is worth it). However, this means I've spent a lot of time napping and foggy-headed which means that I've done no work since Wednesday. Now I'm panicking. The plan I had worked, until I got sick.

But this is the problem with the time crunch, isn't it. The time crunch only works if one does not get sick or if the wheels are well oiled and there's no hitch. And I've put myself into this situation, so I've got no choice this summer but to make it work, but after reading EE's blog about The Slow Professor (sorry that I'm too lazy to link you Earnest--feel free to link yourself in the comments if you want), I think I'm going to check out that book and perhaps change my approach to my life (which I've been struggling with for some time). I work well with a schedule. But what I believe my problem is is packing that schedule so tight that when one thing goes off, I cannot adapt. And then EVERYTHING falls apart, and rather than just having to fix one thing, I have to fix all the things.

I'm going to keep this in mind when I schedule my office hours for next quarter, and when I schedule other things.

There is some crunch time though this week. I've got to get some massive amounts of reading done today so that I can plow through a couple of things tomorrow, and start drafting some of this article that's due Friday. I hope it can be done. But this morning is the first morning I don't feel foggy-headed and grumpy, so there's some hope. And I think I can get a fair amount done in the morning so I have the afternoon to spend at the pool with the kid.

There it is. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Some goings ons.

I have been working steadily this past week on the book chapter that was due tomorrow, but for which I got an extension until next Friday. I still think this is possible. I've still got a lot to plow through, but I really feel like I can get through all the rest of the research by Monday and spend the week drafting, writing, revising. It'll be a crunch, and tough, but I know I can get through it.

That being said, yesterday was a bust though. I have an ear infection! Like a full blown, ear going to burst out of my head, ear infection. I went to the doctor (that's how I know it was an ear infection and not a sinus infection or cold or whatever), got a massive and a little shot in one hip, another shot in the other hip, and needless to say, I was out for the count yesterday. I spent most of the day in bed. And I felt really bad because the kid just wanted to play, and I think she sort of understood "Mommy's really sick," but not really. Anyway, that was tough.

So here's what's going on with her. She's been having some lower GI problems. Intermittent diarrhea, but no fever, no dehydration, no weight loss (she's been gaining actually), no abdominal pain, no loss of appetite. Aside from the intermittent diarrhea, she's healthy. But this has been going on since April, and she keeps getting sent home from daycare, which during the quarter when it's just me is a real problem, and would have been a real problem this summer had my mom not been here. (There are other things going on at her daycare that are really stressful that I'll get to in a minute). Back in May she tested positive for this. We treated it. Next go round of tests, negative. That was gone. But still, the problem was there. Maybe it just did a number on her system? Whatever. Sent home from school. More tests. She's had this, since probably April. It's a relatively easy fix with the right antibiotics. But still. Hopefully this will be the last of it. What we think happened here is that she got this from the zoo, specifically the petting zoo. She had been sick the week before we went, probably a virus at school that caused the initial diarrhea, and then in a weakened state, her body was prime for these things to enter. I know it wasn't my cooking (and she doesn't eat out because of her allergies), because none of the rest of us got sick. So that's my best explanation.

Her daycare. There's one teacher, and just when we think the Magpie is out of her room for good, she moves up to help in another room. Look, and I understand that Mags is going to have personality conflicts with her teachers throughout her life and that it doesn't mean that every time she is in conflict that we need to move her. But she's three, for starters, so she cannot really advocate for herself. But anyway, that's besides the point. The very first day, at 14 months when she was in, let's call her Miss A, Miss A's room, after four hours, Miss A suggested that there was something abnormal about her because she didn't feed herself and wasn't orally fixated (wasn't trying to chew on all the toys in the room) and that we needed to look into occupational therapy for her because she doesn't know how to use a spoon. Well, we never taught her that, and we were told it would be several more months before she would even get a spot in the room, so we were going to work on self-feeding then.  Okay, so Miss A moves up after a couple of months. Magpie gets to her room when she turns 2. Third day in there, Miss A: "you know she doesn't talk like she should for a two year old. The fact that she says these big words, that's a sign of autism." Now, I understand she's been doing this for a long time and has seen a lot of kids and has more experience around 2 year olds than I did, but um, no. Neither of our pediatrician has ever suggested that she is on the spectrum or should be tested.** She treats the Magpie differently. And Mags picks up on that. And hates to be in her classroom. Another ongoing issue is her food allergies. We've had her tested. By a specialist. We have a doctor's note. We are asked at least once a week: "Are you sure she's really allergic to these things? How do you know for sure? Have you tried feeding her these things?"And when it's not that it's: "You know she feels different right? You know she understands that she's not normal like the rest of the kids and she wants to eat the things they have." I'm going to address that first. When we go have their picnics with them, we NEVER see Magpie looking at another kid's plate, trying to take food off another kid's plate, crying because her plate looks different. She eats her fruit and the snacks we bring her. In short, she could give two shits about what the other kids are eating. And don't fucking tell me it's weird not to give my kid juice (she doesn't like juice anyway, and don't tell me that's fucking weird either, that there's something wrong with a kid who doesn't like juice. No. It means my kid's teeth won't rot and she's not hopped up on sugar all morning). But Magpie hears things like "weird," "not normal," "wants to be like the other kids," etc., and she picks up on this negativity, and she doesn't want to be with this teacher.

And if I need to prove beyond a doctor's note that my kid's allergies are legit, then fuck you.

Another recent instance: "She doesn't nap anymore. Maybe she has a sleep disorder."
No, she sleeps like 12-14 hours a night and has a good diet. She doesn't have a sleep disorder. The pediatrician said she has just outgrown naps. "Does she really sleep that long? My kid doesn't go to bed until 9. How can she go to bed at 6:30 and sleep until 7 am?" (In my head: well, don't keep your own kid up so fucking late if you're going to judge me on our early bedtime).

She cannot move up to the 3 yr. room until she's potty trained. She's potty trained. We've spent the last week and a half on this and we've deliberately kept her out of school until she is confident and can get her clothes off and on by herself (we've never taught her how to do that, so that's on me for her being 3 and not dressing herself). Here's the problem with the room now. There are about 4 her age in there. The rest are two year olds or almost two year olds. She knows she is with the babies. She does not want to be with the babies. When we get there and her friends are not there, she cries when she sees the room full of babies. I think the other parents are unhappy with this too, because though her friends's names are still on that room's sign in sheet, we haven't seen them there. So they are either there and being brought to the big kids room, or they are not going. And, if they have accidents, they will send the kid back home in a diaper, and this will destroy Magpie if this happens. So, we are keeping her home until they are going to move her up, basically. We're  afraid that she will have accidents because she'll be stressed and depressed about being in the baby room.

All of this is emotionally draining. We are trying to get her into the Montessori school. One of the problems here in this town is that a) we don't go to church, and that is where nearly ALL of the major networking happens, so we are by default excluded from a lot of stuff, and it's a small town; b) there's only one. There are no options, and the good options all have waiting lists a mile long (unless you know someone from church), so we're sort of stuck right now.

Sigh. But, life goes on. I'm enjoying my time with the Magpie, it just makes balancing work and meeting deadlines and working out a little bit harder, but we're trying.

So there it is, y'all.

**I am not saying that there is a problem with autistic kids at all!! Nor am I in denial about my child. What pissed me off was that if it were true, she was using it negatively as a way to label the kid to get her out of her room. Does that make sense? It wasn't "let's get her what she needs so she can be successful." It was "you're kid is handicapped and it's not my job to accommodate that if you're in denial." Which is wrong.